It took me years before that ‘w’ word would come out of my mouth without hesitation. My parents divorced when I was two, and they’ve each been married three times. Why would I ever want to get married and even risk that? Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing. Whereas some people have an example of what works set for them to repeat, I get to start blank and be my own author without precedent. There’s a certain freedom in that. Without further rambling, I present to anyone reading: an open letter to my future wife.
1. I’ll buy you things, but won’t try to buy you. Money can’t fix mistakes. Forgiveness can’t be bought. I believe money to be a tool, a bridge between where we are and where we can go in life; not a tool to pay for someone’s love, time, or affection. Without someone to share it with, nothing is worth a dime. I’ll try every day to earn what must be earned, not paid for.
2. Expect flowers. You’ll mention your favorite flower once and not even realize that I’ll remember it forever. Just know I’ll never see them as an adequate substitute for an apology, a replacement for treating you well, or a right to a previous wrong.
3. I hope you don’t like weird baby names. If I’m going to be strong enough to resist the urge to name our son Chipper, meet me in the middle. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel here.
4. I’ll listen. Even when you’re being difficult, stubborn, and complicated.
5. I’ll remember. Your likes, so I can get close to them. Your dislikes, so I can avoid them. What your first Halloween costume was, so I can remind you how cute you looked. Where you’ve been, so I can be thankful for where you are. Where you want to go, so I can be inspired to go there with you. What your biggest dreams are, so I can do whatever I can to push you towards them. Where our first date was, so we can go back.
6. I love you. I’ll be as proud of that as I am of any other accomplishment, because I believe finding your own epic love story is one of the highest achievements known to human life. It’ll be my goal for saying those three words not to become an empty habit and stay a meaningful declaration.
7. Thanks. By the time I get to you, I’ll have been hurt several times over. Thanks for letting me get to you, because in the end I’ll be getting into you only because you got to me first. You’re different in the best way possible.
8. The final say belongs to you. I’m no fool. If you’re happy, I’m happy. If I’m not happy, I better learn how to be. I’ll do my best to lead the home, but you’re going to be much smarter than me. Aside from my ability to drop a few bars of rap on a beat and tell you what Chipper Jones’ batting average was in 2008 (.364), I expect that you’ll teach me more than I’ve ever learned.
9. Your value is not found in me. I have nothing to do with your value as a person, and you’ll know that. I’ll do my best to encourage and support the things that make you who you are, but the reason you have value is that you’re you. That’s truer than true.
10. I don’t believe in divorce. If something is broken, I want to fix it. Not throw the pieces in the garbage. Call me old fashioned, but a divorce to me is about as good of an idea as laying down in a tub full of rusty razorblades. Our biggest priorities determine our biggest devotions. Mine will be you.
11. You be my soft and sweet. I’ll be your strong and steady. Fill the holes left by my checkered past. Be the wine to my whiskey. The person you are will reflect the person I want to be, and together that’s just a whole big bunch of awesomeness. The world ain’t ready.
12. Never let me become normal. I was once told by someone very smart that I should be intimidated by the fear of being average. To this day, I am. You’re anything but normal, so expect the same from me.
13. You’ll never not be enough. I’ll trade in my celebrity pass list for permission from your father to marry you. I’ll give up time with my friends for more memories with you. You’re more than enough, and I’ll never need to leave you for someone else. Signed, sealed, delivered. I’m yours.
14. When I met you, I only wanted you to be happy. Even if it wasn’t with me. The fact that I’m the one who gets to make you happy for the rest of your life leaves me speechless. The only goal from the beginning was to see you smile. This is just a bonus.
15. I’ll need a few hundred second chances, but hopefully no third ones. Mistakes stop being mistakes when they become matters of conscious decision. Never put up with me being foolish enough to be reckless with your emotions many times over.
16. It doesn’t matter what, where or when. It only matters who. Nights spent dressed up downtown when we’re 25 will be just as fun as staying home and doing the dishes together before watching a movie when we’re 30. A Sunday spent at the Braves game when we’re 30 will be just as fun as carpooling kids in a minivan to soccer practice on a Saturday when we’re 40. Times change. That doesn’t mean the love will.
17. I’ll always remember our first date. I’ll never forget what you wore, what we did, what we talked about, or the feeling I had when I saw you walking my way. The way I tried not to let you catch my stare into your eyes will always resonate, and the tiny little thought that was so amazing was that those eyes were looking right back at me.
18. Everybody has a past. I won’t be the first guy you’ve dated, but I hope to be the last. I won’t bring your past hurt into our relationship. I won’t worry about where you’ve been, only where you are. It’s all about where we’re going.
19. I’ll date you forever. Dating isn’t merely a process before marriage. It continues afterwards. Easier said than done, but it’ll always be a priority for me to make you feel prioritized. Even if it means sacrificing time I could have solo with my friends, it’s always better when we’re together.
20. Hope you don’t get seasick. Time will be made for vacations whenever possible, whether it’s on a cruise for a week far from home, a couple of days in a cabin, or a date day nearby. I’ll never regret interrupting normal life to get away with you.
21. I’ll be amazed at the mother you become. Our kids will be the luckiest to have ever been born. Not because I’m their dad, but because they’ll always be able to call you their mom.
22. I’ll take the good stuff. No, that won’t be a tall one after work. It won’t be shots of Patron to numb a bad day, a fight, or a speed bump in the road of our marriage. I won’t be able to find the good stuff at the corner bar. It’ll be coming back to you, working it out, and moving on. The love I’ll have for you is stronger than the whiskey.
23. Take your time coming home. Take the long way around. If there’s ever a time when you’re tired of the view from the same window, a time when you feel the need to go find yourself, go. Go write your name in new sand and put your feet into new water. I’ll be here. I want to hold you, but I don’t want to hold you back.
24. Nothing safe is worth the drive. I know we’ve got bills to pay, and nothing figured out just yet. But let’s never forget to be spontaneous along the way. Teach me how to take more risks and live with more abandon for borders and guidelines. Let’s do things all the time that scare the living hell out of us and make our own new rules.
25. I’ve been waiting for you. I’ve hoped to become and be the person you’re looking for, and hoped my eyes would be shaped to hold you higher than the rest. You won’t be without your quirks, but I’ll love them endlessly. You’ve got that one thing that I’ll never be able to describe. All that you are is all that I’ll ever need.
So, alas, all that’s left is to meet you. Maybe I already have. Maybe when I do I’ll know immediately, or maybe the signs will come subtly along the way. All I have left to say is I’m glad you exist, because sooner or later, you’re going to be the best thing that has ever been mine.
For a continuation of this list, click here to see Part II.